Cellulitis: a Skin and Eye Infection

An infection that can affect the skin and/or the eyes is called cellulitis. The types of cellulitis that can affect the eyes are preseptal and orbital. Preseptal cellulitis is common in children, especially young children. In preseptal cellulitis, the tissue of the eyelid is affected. While in orbital cellulitis, the eye socket or orbit is affected. The eye cannot move properly because this type of cellulitis causes the eye or eyelid to swell.

An infection from bacteria or fungal infection causes cellulitis to occur. Other problems such as insect bites, skin wounds, dental surgery or head and neck surgery, sinus infection, and asthma can lead to cellulitis. The infection starts in the sinuses that spreads to the eyelid or orbit. In cold weather, a sinus infection is common.

Make sure to clean any wounds carefully and follow the instructions of the doctor after surgery. The infection spreads quickly in cellulitis which is why treatment must be done right away. If you suspect that you or your child have cellulitis, call for medical help right away. If cellulitis is left untreated, it can cause vision loss or the infection can spread throughout your body.

Symptoms of cellulitis include bulging eyes, swelling of the eyelid or tissue around the eye, red eyelids, trouble in moving the eye, blurry vision, double vision, fever, and problems seeing well.

How Cellulitis Is Diagnosed


The first question that your doctor will ask is if you recently had surgery or dental work. The next is if you had sinus infections and skin wounds. The doctor will examine your eyes and tests will be done to determine what type of infection you have. If your doctor thinks that you have preseptal cellulitis, tissue from the nose or eye may be tested. If they think it is orbital cellulitis, blood tests will be ordered. In some instances, a scan of the affected area is obtained to help the doctor visualize where the infection is located in the orbit.

Can Cellulitis Be Treated?


In the majority of cases, antibiotic medicine is prescribed by the doctor to treat cellulitis. In preseptal cellulitis, the infection will get better after one or two days of taking antibiotics. Orbital cellulitis is a more serious infection where oral antibiotics are not that effective. Admission to the hospital may be needed for you to be treated because special antibiotics will be given intravenously. The treatment will depend on what type of cellulitis you have.

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